CAMBRIDGE — If Superbowl Sunday was a huge day for football and Tom Brady, it was also a super event day for baseball in Cambridge. Just ask two 10-year-olds, Will Linthicum and Nathan Huber who arrived at 6 a.m. to help set up the tables and the bread-toasting station. “Baseball is my favorite sport,” says Will. “I play first base and my best friends are the other players.”
The annual Little League Super Bowl Breakfast, held this year at the Elks Lodge in Cambridge, opened at 8:30 a.m. and drew a little over a 100 adults and kids to raise funds needed for the Little League’s new season.
The breakfast menu included bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, scrapple, and Will’s flying toast. A “real” restaurant critic would praise the quality of the food and the friendly and efficient service. But eating was just a part of this breakfast. Generous local businesses were well-represented with a wide variety of items, from tools and hunting boots, to baubles and a sweet handpainted butter churn.
Pizza and Ice Cream parties were auctioned in lively competition. One hundred gallons of home heating oil was more than just heartwarming. The big ticket item was a huge television donated by Care and Share. One organizer pitched the idea that the best way to deal with an expensive item like that was a raffle; they hit a home run. Lots of people thought a dollar a chance was a steal, a good way to replace the old one at home. To be sure, many struck out but the Little League scored big. (That’s enough baseball references, in case you didn’t notice.)
Brandon Hesson of the city’s Economic Development department is president of the Little League board. Once the head of Main Street, he has new challenges and goals in his volunteer job with Little League. Funding is one challenge since the league does not receive any city funds through Parks and Recreation. In many other towns, Little League is a regular budget item; nonetheless, the children have lots of supporters right here. Local businesses and parents donate time and money. Sponsors help with teams and the field itself is donated for use by the Rescue Fire Squad.
Nevermind peanuts and Cracker Jacks, parents serve the hotdogs and hamburgers, nachos and fries, that serve as family dinners at the ballgames. That money pays for mowing the field, lights, and other necessities at the games. Registration fees barely cover uniforms.
Mr. Hesson’s challenges include attracting a more diverse group of children. Only 13 girls citywide are registered. Twelve-year-old Jenna Linthicum goes to bat for Girls’ Softball. “You make friends, you learn new skills, you learn to act as a team.” Replying to “Are you good?” Jenna says, “I play second base, I’m fast, I hustle.”
While the registration fee of $65 is affordable, it is not affordable for everyone. Equasia Quiles of Cambridge has four children and she registered three of them in Little League. She explains she wants the best for her kids and besides, “They’ve been worrying me to death to get them registered in Little League,” but the expense for more than one child is a burden for some families. Mr. Hesson explains the League has a sliding scale which can help famiies with more than one child but he is looking into other creative ways to enable more families to join. Scholarships and a variation of “sweat quity” are possibilities.
Brandon Hesson reminisces on his own experience and believes, “How often will a kid have the unforgettable experience of hitting, or scoring, with the whole family and everyone else standing and cheering?” Community support can make that happen.
The Banner will print schedules. See you there … maybe just once?